By definition, diaspora is a dispersion of human groups that leave their place of origin. In the case of Dominicans, through emigration, they have disseminated to every corner of the planet, leaving a social and cultural impact wherever they are found.

According to a study carried out by the Observatorio de Migrantes del Caribe (Observatory of Caribbean Migrants; OBMICA), it is estimated that there are more than 1.6 million Dominicans residing abroad, of which 85.5% are in the United States, followed by 7.56% that reside in Europe. The remaining 6.93% are in Central America and the Caribbean.

Dominican residents abroadDominican population registered and or estimated in main countries of residence  
Countries of destination  Estimated number of migrants  
United States  1,414,703 
Spain  77,696 
Puerto Rico  67,415 
Italy  28,623 
Venezuela  12,078 
Canada  7,742 
Panama  6,944 
Virgin Islands  5,958 
Germany  5,939 
Switzerland  5,828 
Curacao  5,599 
France  4,912 
Haiti  4,799 
Aruba  4,317 
San Martin  3,510 
Mexico  1,893 
Antigua and Barbuda  1,740 
Austria  1,635 
Costa Rica  1,105 
Netherlands  1,053 
Total  1,663,489 
Source: Observatory of Caribbean Migrants (OBMICA) – State of the Art of Migrations that deal with the Dominican Republic 2014 with data from Eurostat (2014), UNDESA (2013b), World Bank (2010) and US Census (2010)


History of the Dominican Diaspora in the United States

Massive emigration to the United States from the Dominican Republic began in 1966. A large contingent of Dominicans left their native land as a consequence of political instability. Many of those that left prior to that year belonged to an elite class of Dominican society. However, in 1966 the Dominican migration changed: it transformed into an enormous exodus of people searching for work. In 1960, less than 10,000 Dominicans resided in the United States. By 1980, the number of Dominicans in the United States had risen to 170,817, and in  2010 it reached more than 1.4 million, according to the US Census.  

The majority of Dominicans arrived between the years 1990 and 2000. During that decade, nearly 300,000 obtained permanent residency and 90% of those obtained it through the Family Reunification Law of 1965. The majority of Dominican emigrants settled in New York. In 1980 more than 73 percent of Dominicans resided in New York state, and New York City housed close to 95 percent of that population  In 1990, Dominicans were the most numerous group of immigrants in New York City, with a population of 332,713 people. Its notable population growth was the result of the migratory influx combined with high rates of fertility among Dominican women.

The massive arrival of Dominicans coincided with an economic  restructuring of the labor market; the creation of more jobs in the service sector than any other sector, and the fast disappearance of stable, unionized, blue collar jobs in the manufacturing sector. In 1990, Dominican population growth in New York City halted. But, the Dominican population grow rapidly in other states, particularly in the Northeast, in California and Alaska.

This growth created Dominican communities with dynamic businesses, a cultural presence and active political life. Dominican communities of today display anguish and progress at the same time. In Florida, the anual income of Dominican homes in 2010 was half of that of White non-hispanics; in New York, a fourth of Dominican families lived below the poverty line and more Dominicans were deported back to their country than all of those from other Caribbean countries combined.   

Noted Dominicans

Hollywood actress Zoe Saldana has become a household name; Julissa Reynoso served as the youngest female Ambassador from the United States; Thomas Perez served as the Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Department during the Obama Administration. Furthermore, Dominicans vote for fellow Dominicans in many cities where they currently live. In 2016, Adriano Espaillat became the first Dominican to be elected as a Senator to the US Congress.

Members of the Dominican diaspora in the United States have been successful in different sectors, apart from writers, government officials and elected officials, in areas such as sports, among them Pedro Martínez, David Ortiz, Manny Ramírez, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodríguez, Albert Pujols and Al Horford among others, such as actors and actresses Manny Pérez, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodríguez, Dascha Polanco and Dania Ramírez and musicians and or singers Michel Camilo, Prince Royce y Romeo Santos, among many others.

Hernández, Ramona. Dominican Americans. Oxford Bibliographies.

http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199913701/obo-9780199913701-0015.xml#obo-9780199913701-0015-div1-0001 (Last modification: 19/March/2013)


Public and Elected Officials from the Dominican Republic in the United States

Federal Government

Thomas E. Pérez
Secretary of Labor, Department of Labor
* First Latino elected to the Montgomery County Council.

New York

Adriano Espaillat
Member of the New York State Senate from the 31st district.
* First Dominican to be elected to the US Congress in 2016

Fernando Cabrera
Member of the New York City Council from the 14th district

Rafael Espinal
Member of the New York City Council from the 37th district

Julissa Ferreras
Member of the New York City Council from the 21st district
* (First Latina elected to political office in Queens).

Guillermo Linares
Member of the New York State Assembly from the 72nd district
* First Dominican-born elected to public office in the United States in 1991.

Ydanis Rodríguez
Member of the New York City Council from the 10th district

José Peralta
Member of the New York State Senate from the 13th district

Antonio Reynoso
Member of the New York City Council from the 34th district

Rita Mella
Judge, New York County Surrogate’s Court

Diana Reyna
Deputy Borough President, Brooklyn President’s Office
* First woman of Dominican descent elected to office in New York State.


Marcos Devers
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the 16th Essex district

Kendrys Vasquez
President of Lawrence City Council

Bryan de Peña
Councilor at Large, Lawrence City Council

Nilka Alvarez-Rodríguez
Councilor at Large, Lawrence City Council

Modesto Maldonado
Councilor at Large, Lawrence City Council

Rhode Island

Grace Diaz
Member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives

Juan Pichardo
Member of the Rhode Island State Senate (Deputy Majority Leader)


Joseline Pena-Melnyk
Member of the Maryland House of Delegates from the 21st. district

New Jersey

Alex Blanco
Mayor of Passaic, New Jersey

Tilo Rivas
Commissioner of Public Works in Union City, New Jersey and Hudson County Freeholder


Additional Works by Dominican Writers of the Diaspora


  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Mondadori, Barcelona – 2008
  • Nilda.  The Sun, the Moon, the Stars. Otra vidaotra vez (originally published in The New Yorker in 2009/1998/1999 respectively)
  • Alfabia, Barcelona 2009
  • Así es como la pierdes – Mondadori, Barcelona – 2013


  • Diccionario de la Literatura 2da. Edición  –  (2010)
  • El canal de la delicia (2010)
  • Diasporando (Essay, 2011)
  • De Cementerios, Varones y Tumbas (2012)
  • Escritores dominicanos de la diáspora: apuntes bibliográficos (2013) 


  • Palabras de mujer (1997)
  • El callejón de las flores (2004)
  • Cuando me asalta el recuerdo de ti (2003)
  • Mi corazón tiembla en la sombra (2007)
  • Mujeres de vida alegre (2009)
  • Cartas desde Denver
  • Si cayese la ausencia (2011)
  • Mariposas de arena (2012)
  • Cartas a mi nieto
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